NITED NATIONS - South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has agreed to take part in an "unconditional dialogue" on ending deadly strife in the country, diplomats said Friday.
The leader made the commitment to African foreign ministers who went to Juba in a bid to end fighting in which hundreds of people have been killed, UN Security Council president Gerard Araud said.
Kiir has "apparently agreed to enter into unconditional dialogue," Araud, France's UN ambassador, told reporters after an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the South Sudan crisis.
A short time later, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued another call for renewed peace efforts, amid rapidly escalating political and ethnic violence.
"The Secretary General reiterates his call for all parties to exercise restraint, and to cease hostilities," the UN leader said, one day after a deadly attack on one of its bases.
Violence erupted after a meeting last week of the National Liberation Council of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement failed to lessen tensions in the ruling party.
Ban urged SPLM leaders "to demonstrate compromise and leadership on behalf of the Southern Sudanese people, and to resolve their personal differences through dialogue immediately."
The president has "apparently accepted to enter into unconditional dialogue," France's UN ambassador told reporters after an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the crisis.
He made the commitment to African foreign ministers who went to Juba in a bid to end fighting in which hundreds of people have been killed, Security Council president Gerard Araud told reporters.
Araud initially said that former vice president Riek Machar had also agreed to dialogue, but later corrected his comments.
Ministers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti and Sudan went to Juba on a mission to try to end a week of strife in which hundreds have died. They held talks with Kiir but not with Riek Machar.
The ministers were also to try to see detainees held since the fighting erupted on Sunday.
The 15-member Security Council urged the leaders to bring "a swift and peaceful resolution to this crisis by calling for a cessation of hostilities and immediately commencing a dialogue."
The council expressed "grave alarm" at the worsening crisis which it said was a threat to the whole region.